11/04/2011 09:13 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make Pesto

Chef Joseph DiPerri of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates how easy it is to make pesto from scratch. He begins by adding handfuls of fresh basil and parsley to a blender, then adds cloves of fresh garlic. (Because this sauce is so forgiving, you can add as much or as little as you like.) Next up is grated cheese (Parmesan is traditional) and toasted pine nuts (you can use walnuts if you prefer). He starts the motor, adding the olive oil in a stream, explaining that you want to add enough oil to get the herbs moving in the blender. If the mixture appears stuck, a tiny bit of water can be added to loosen it.

Once the sauce has puréed, he adds salt and pepper for seasoning, and it's ready to serve. He warns that pesto oxidizes (turns brown) quickly, so be sure to keep it tightly covered until you're ready to use it. In addition to pasta, he suggests serving it on fresh tomatoes or roasted pork.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Joe DiPerri from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to make pesto.

Pesto is a puree of fresh herbs, garlic, grated cheese, olive oil, and nuts. It is used primarily as a summer sauce for fresh pasta.

We're going to start our pesto with our fresh herbs. We have fresh-picked basil and fresh-chopped parsley, and we're going to add this all to the blender. Making pesto is very, very fast and very, very simple. We're going to add our grated cheese, and also our toasted nuts. You can see here i have pine nuts, which is the typical classic from Genoa, but walnuts can be used if you don't have pine nuts. I have some fresh cloves of garlic - those of you that like more can add more, and those of you that don't want as much can hold off on some.

Now we'll start the motor, and then we're going to add our olive oil and turn up the speed. I've put enough oil into the blender to get the ingredients to begin moving. Sometimes if the herbs aren't moving too well in the blender, a tiny bit of water can be added so we get the mixture to move in the blender.

And that's it! We have a nice pureed mixture. This is the type of sauce that freezes well. If you're not careful, it will oxidize and turn brown - so it's extremely important to keep it tightly covered in the refrigerator until you're ready to use />
I'm just going to finish the sauce with a tiny bit of salt and pepper, and we'll mix that in. This would be great on pasta; you can use it on fresh tomatoes; you can use it on some roasted pork.